Greece plans to ban the sale of petrol and diesel powered cars, while also improving the energy performance of its taxis, in moves seen as providing a major boost to smoggy Athens.
The decision was unveiled by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at a cabinet meeting yesterday, in a push to improve the country’s overall green performance and meet carbon emission reduction targets.
The ban on the sale of vehicles with combustion engines (ie. petrol and diesel powered cars) will take effect as of 2030, five years before the goals set by the European Union.
Other changes include requiring all new taxis in Athens and Thessaloniki to be either electric, or zero emission vehicles, as of 2025, while new homes being constructed as of 2023 will have natural-gas powered heating, rather than oil burning units.
"We are talking about a multi-level, coherent program that is leading Greece to the new era with specific goals. It is a development that, on the one hand, will offer clean and cheap energy, and on the other, will also offer many, good new jobs and a better quality of life to citizens,” he said.
The steps will help Athenians take a breather and improve poor air quality in the Greek capital.
Indicative of the capital's environmental problems is a decision from the European Commission in July to take the country to the Court of Justice for poor air quality caused by high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in Athens.
Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which mostly results from road traffic, causes asthma, respiratory infections, reduced lung function and increased risk of lung cancer.
Severe wildfires that burned large parts of Greece in July and August and rising temperature levels brought on by climate change, also contributed to difficult breathing conditions in central Athens over the summer.